It is interesting to look at people’s reactions to our president’s seemingly irrational pronouncements and tweets. Those who oppose him are beginning to wonder whether he might not be playing with a full deck, while those who endorse him seem to see him as diabolically clever, carefully crafting his responses to events in such a way so as to recharge and empower his base while simultaneously befuddling and enraging his opposition.

It is interesting to look at people’s reactions to our president’s seemingly irrational pronouncements and tweets.  Those who oppose him are beginning to wonder whether he might not be playing with a full deck, while those who endorse him seem to see him as diabolically clever, carefully crafting his responses to events in such a way so as to recharge and empower his base while simultaneously befuddling and enraging his opposition.  
I’m not yet convinced either of these characterizations is accurate.  Now I’m not suggesting that extreme narcissism and paranoia are in any way normal, but I’m not yet convinced that they rise to the level of mental illness, as some have suggested.  Nor am I convinced he is capable of clever manipulation of anyone’s opinions of him.
I think a third explanation for the apparent irrational explosions of our president is something more akin to Hanlon’s razor which can be summarized as “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.”
As an illustration, consider Mr. Trump’s recent statement, “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.”  Of course anybody who has ever given the subject even rudimentary thought or study knew that it was complicated - a veritable bucket of worms.  That’s why it took Democrats over a year to develop an Affordable Care Act that a majority of their own party could accept.  It would have taken until hell froze over to find a plan both Democrats and Republicans could have accepted, even though the  Democratic Affordable Care Act was based on the Republican Massachusetts plan instituted by then-Governor Mitt Romney.
While on the campaign trail, Trump promised over and over again that he had a plan that would be better and cheaper, but he had not a clue how to put together such a plan, and left it to Paul Ryan to do the heavy lifting.
Now, even though it seemed as if the Republicans were in a position to tear up the Democratic plan and replace it with one of their own, with nothing approaching unanimity of opinion in their own party on how to do that, they have fumbled the ball.  In the process they have exposed the deep idealogical divisions within their party.
So what doomed the Republican plan?  For some the problem was fiscal.  Traditionally Republicans have only worried about deficits and the growing national debt when Democrats occupy the White House, but there are a few true fiscal conservatives out there who worry about costs all the time, and Paul Ryan’s proposal, while it saved the government some money ($34 billion per year), mostly by lowering medicaid coverage, was not enough for fiscal conservatives.  
State’s rights ideologues want the Federal Government out of essentially everything except defense just as a matter of principle, and that includes healthcare.  Rand Paul referred to the Ryan plan as “Obamacare light.”  These folks don’t like the idea of bureaucrats having any role in healthcare.  They feel all healthcare decisions are a matter between a patient and his insurance adjustor.  
More moderate Republicans (particularly those not blessed with a gerrymandered district that insures their reelection in perpetuity) were worried about the 15-24 million people that the Congressional Budget Office said would lose their insurance entirely under the Ryan plan and how those voters might respond at the polls.
While Congress struggled with these issues, our president seems to have had no ideas of his own.  He seemed happy to sit back and just endorse whatever the Congress sent him as “wonderful.”  His lack of practical ideas in this regard is characteristic of all his proposals. He wants to spend billions on a Maginot Line on our southern border with no explanation of why it would be any more successful at keeping Mexicans out of the U.S. than the original was at keeping the Germans out of France.  He wants to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure with no explanation of where the money will come from.  He wants to save jobs in dying industries like coal mining with no plan for how to do that.  He wants to tax imported goods with no understanding that other countries will retaliate against our exports.  He wants to destroy ISIS once and for all with no ideas about how to accomplish that.  In short, he is in over his head.
Yes Mr. Trump, healthcare and the other challenges we face are complicated.  And it would be nice if we had a president who had the intelligence, inquisitiveness, and political experience to realize that and contribute solutions.  Bragging that you are the only one who can fix the problems is not a solution.





James W. Rhoades writes a column for the Neosho Daily News.